Beliefs and myths of southern Africa – The Zulu
The Zulu-speaking people of southern Africa are descended from the Nguni clan. The Nguni can be divided into four distinct groups: the Northern and Central Nguni (Zulu-speaking), the Southern Nguni (Xhosa-speaking), the Swazi people from Swaziland and the adjacent areas and the Ndebele people of the Northern Province and Mpumalanga.
The Zulu language is part of the Nguni language groups. There are several variations of Zulu spoken in southern Africa. The word Zulu means Sky and is said to be the name of the ancestor who founded the Zulu royal line in approximately 1670.
isiZulu is South Africa’s most widely spoken official language with more than half of the population understanding it. It is a tonal language and is characterized by clicking consonants. As with the other early indigenous languages of southern Africa, it was originally an oral language which started evolving into a written language when the missionaries from Europe arrived.
God and the afterlife
Unkulunkulu, meaning the very great/high one, was the historical Supreme Creator of the Zulu-speaking people. According to mythology, Unkulukulu created the land and water, men and all the animals. He brought men and cattle from an area of reeds.
Like most southern Africa peoples, the Zulus pay tribute to the souls of their dead ancestors. The ancestors are believed to live in the spirit world of Unkulukulu and are regarded as intermediaries between the living and the spirit world. The ancestral spirits are known as amadlozi and abaphansi and make themselves know through dreams, sickness and snakes.
Offerings, commonly in the form of home-brewed beer and animal sacrifices, are made to the ancestors to keep them happy and to ask them for blessings, good luck, fortune, guidance and assistance.
If bad luck occurs, a spiritual healer called a Sangoma, is consulted to determine whether the occurrence is as a result of witchcraft or due to the ancestors feeling neglected or becoming angry. Once a decision as to the cause has been made, either a witch hunt takes place, or a sacrifice is made to appease the ancestors.
Shaka Zulu by James King
The Zulu clan to which Shaka was born in 1787 was small. His father was the chief of his clan and his mother, Nandi, was the daughter of the chief of nearby clan.
Shaka’s father drove his mother and him out of the village when he was a young boy. They were disgraced and Shaka was teased and bullied by the boys in the village where they found refuge. Shaka became tall and strong as he grew older. He was also clever and ambitious. He wanted to be chief someday.
Shaka and his mother became part of the clan of a chief called Dingiswayo and Shaka trained as a warrior. When Shaka’s father died, Dingiswayo helped Shaka to become chief of his father’s clan. When Dingiswayo died, Shaka took control of the surrounding tribes and became a powerful leader in the area.
Ten interesting facts about Shaka Zulu
- Prior to Shaka unifying the various clans that occupied most of modern day KwaZulu Natal, the Zulu’s did not exist as one nation. He was the founder of the Zulu Nation;
- He loved his mother;
- He killed more Zulus than any of his enemies did;
- His capital was called Bulawayo which means “The Place Where They Are Killed;”
- When Shaka went out to conquer other tribes, he spared the San (Bushmen);
- Shaka Zulu did not allow his troops to marry until they had proved themselves in battle;
- He forced his soldiers to go barefoot all the time so their feet would become tough and they would be more agile in a fight;
- Shaka recruited young boys to carry his warrior’s supplies, freeing them up to move quicker from battle to battle;
- He allowed white settlers into his Kingdom; and
- When his mother died he killed many Zulus to mourn her death.
South African History Online
Myths and Legends of southern Africa by Penny Miller
About the author
Robbie, short for Roberta, is an author with five published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with her son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about her mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with her mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton).
All of Robbie’s children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications. Robbie has recently branched into adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differentiate her children’s books from her adult writing, these will be published under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. Robbie has two short stories in the horror/supernatural genre included in Dark Visions, a collection of 34 short stories by 27 different authors and edited by award winning author, Dan Alatorre. These short stories are published under Robbie Cheadle.
Find and follow Roberta Eaton
While the Bombs Fell
What was it like for children growing up in rural Suffolk during World War 2?
Elsie and her family live in a small double-storey cottage in Bungay, Suffolk. Every night she lies awake listening anxiously for the sound of the German bomber planes. Often they come and the air raid siren sounds signalling that the family must leave their beds and venture out to the air raid shelter in the garden.
Despite the war raging across the English channel, daily life continues with its highlights, such as Christmas and the traditional Boxing Day fox hunt, and its wary moments when Elsie learns the stories of Jack Frost and the ghostly and terrifying Black Shuck that haunts the coastline and countryside of East Anglia.
Includes some authentic World War 2 recipes.
Robbie also writes as Robbie Cheadle
The Sir Chocolate books are a delightful marriage of story, verse and cookery
… a perfect recipe for sharing with children. Silly Willy goes to Cape Town tells the adventures of two very different brothers…and includes five party cake ideas.
You can purchase the Sir Chocolate books from:
or you can buy them in South Africa directly from the authors by emailing Robbie Cheadle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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